Oscar Wilde 's An Ideal Husband

2176 Words9 Pages
The genre of comedy, throughout the history of dramatic art has always served to not only entertain audiences, but to make them aware of their own individual flaws, or flaws that exist in society. (Weitz, E.) Comedy has no precise definition, and its boundaries are broad. One function of comedy however has remained the same - to hold up a mirror to the society of the time but through pleasure, inviting audiences to reflect and also providing amusement. Set in the late nineteenth century, the play An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde (1895) epitomises comedy, as both a literary and dramatic genre. Wilde was masterful in his ability to combine aspects of evolved comedic traditions and dramatic conventions to critique Victorian society. Drawing on characteristics of Greek and Roman tragicomedy, the choices in the play’s plot involves elements of tragedy as well as scenes that serve as comic relief and give the audience a sense of finality through a happy resolution. (Bureman, L) Focussing on the upper class stratum, Wilde employs a comedy of manners Molière style, of the Restoration Period in the seventeenth century in the play by combining forms of comedy with aspects of realist drama. The portrayal of archetypal figures such as Lady Chiltern and Lord Goring satirize rigid moral value of the time and expose their hypocrisies, through dialogue involving irony, wit and humour. Elements of farce and disguises characterized by ‘commedia dell’arte’, a form of comedy first developed in
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